Wednesday, July 14, 2021

An Artful Night Out: SD Practice at SDAI and Bread & Salt

By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt. Photos by Maurice Hewitt. 

At SDAI, a pair of art-lovers admire Internal Voids and External Bridges by Marisol Rendon.  (Charcoal on paper)

Saturday evening July 10th was a great time to be out and about again. It was the first time since early March 2020 that my husband and I actually went to an art opening—an opening that started in late afternoon and included not just one but two venues: SanDiego Art Institute (SDAI) in Balboa Park and Bread & Salt in Barrio Logan. 

This special event should have had a more exciting name than SD Practice. A sampling of the diverse practices of artists on both sides of the border, it featured almost 100 artworks purchased by the City of San Diego in the past year to help support regional artmakers during the pandemic. What enabled the purchases and the Practice was a generous $500,000 gift from the estate of the late Thomas O. Rasmussen, a devoted collector of contemporary art.

It was a thrill—kind of a scary one, initially—to be surrounded by art lovers and artists, hear the buzz of opening-night conversations and see familiar faces—most of them unmasked—that we hadn’t seen in a long, long time.

Here’s a look at a few of the almost 50 pieces at SDAI, where the evening began—with some of their creators posing beside them. 

Marianela de la Hoz, with The Absent Presence of Always. (Egg tempera on board) 

Hugo Crosthwaite, with White Dress. (Pencil, charcoal and acrylic on paper) 

Claudia Cano, with Rosa’s Cleaning Brushes. (Silkscreen on paper)

Excavated World 1 by Doris Bittar. (Hand-cut collages, archival map)

San Diego Art Institute 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park.
The exhibit will remain on view through September 5, 

And here are a few of the almost 50 pieces at Bread & Salt, where the evening continued.

Inverse Bowee, a wire sculpture by Ann Mudge. 

Ninguna Ballena Es Una Isla (No Whale Is an Island), a photograph by Angelica Escoto.

One thing I did miss at both venues was signage—almost none of the artworks were shown with their titles or the names of the artists who created them. In a way, it was interesting to see how you thought and felt about each piece without any prior knowledge, but not so helpful if you’re trying to write about them. There were QR codes you could access on your cell phones, but we couldn’t always locate them. 

One of the pieces that did have a title was La Sangre Se Limpia Con Sangre (Blood Cleans Itself with Blood)—a wishing-well/pond full of dark reddish liquid into which visitors were invited to toss coins.


La Sangre Se Limpia Con Sangre (Blood Cleans Itself with Water), an installation by Cristobal Gracia.

I watched people tossing their coins in and heard the glop as each coin hit the viscous water, and my husband noticed that the dirtier a coin looked, the more bubbles came up after it sank.

The artist just happened to be standing right by me when I was ready with questions. He told me the liquid was salsa—specifically, Valentina hot sauce. In Mexico, it seems, they clean statues with Valentina, which works very well, but while the work is in process, the statue looks like it’s bleeding. “I’m playing with the idea of cleaning money,” he said.

His name is Cristobal Gracia, he’s from Mexico City and he’s currently pursuing an MFA in sculpture at Yale. La Sangre was originally exhibited in Mexico City, but this is its first appearance in the U.S. It has already been sold to a collector in Mexico—something like one of the NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) we’ve all been hearing about. This means the buyer now owns detailed instructions on how to build his own coin-cleaning pond. I’m not sure Mexico City or New Haven are part of our region exactly, but Gracia’s installation looks quite at home at Bread & Salt.

Bread & Salt 1955 Julian Avenue, San Diego CA 92123
The exhibit here will remain on view through September 12, and they’ll be hosting a panel with several of the artists that evening, at 7 p.m.

A fun thing we did after Bread & Salt was walk over the freeway bridge to Logan Avenue, where we enjoyed some of the Barrio’s street-side murals and a lowrider parade. Here are two sights that seemed like a perfect addition to our artful night.

A neighborhood mural La Vida Es Un Sueno (Life is a Dream)

A welcome sign of Hope. 

Lonnie Burstein Hewitt is an award-winning author/lyricist/playwright who has written about arts and lifestyle for the La Jolla Light and other local media for over a dozen years. You can reach her at

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